Malaysia plans not to ban hotdogs or revoke halal certifications
Hot dogs are pictured on a table Reuters

Malaysia said it has decided not to ban hot dogs in the country or revoke the halal certifications of outlets which are selling food items with the word "dog" in it.

Jamil Khir Baharom, who oversees the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), said authorities in the Muslim-majority nation can be tolerant.

"There has never been an issue about revoking any halal certificates and we have no plans of detaining or making haram those who use the name 'hot dog'," Baharom told Channel NewsAsia.

"What is important is the content of the food," added Jamil, who is also a minister in the prime minister's office.

Sirajuddin Suhaimee, director of the halal division from the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), a powerful government agency, said on Tuesday that food outlets must rename hot dogs or it might get into the risk of being refused a halal certification.

"Any (halal) products that make consumers confused, we have to change," he told The Straits Times.

"In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification," he added.

JAKIM also said it would take the initiative of addressing the use of "dog" in food items in other restaurants in stages.

The issue came out in the open when US pretzel chain Auntie Anne's was asked to rename its products called "pretzel dogs" to "pretzel sausages" following JAKIM guidelines for halal certification. The JAKIM guidelines say "that products should not use names or names synonymous with non-halal products or use confusing terms such as ham, bacon, beer, hotdog and the like".

In response to this advice, Auntie Anne's Malaysia executive Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali said: "It's a minor issue. We are fine with changing the name and are still working on it."

The ruling including other food items whose name includes the word "dog", has been ridiculed on social media and many have criticized it.

The Straits Times reported that one Facebook user remarked: "Please stick to religion... don't be an English language adviser." While another person posted: "Pet shops, please rename your dogs as sau- sages."

However, the agency dismissed all those online criticism and referred to them as a "normal reaction".

"We are doing our job, by the law," he said.